The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is delighted to announce that Lovers Rock, directed by BFI Fellow Steve McQueen, has joined this year’s programme. The film will screen on Sunday 18 October across 2 screenings at BFI Southbank as part of the LFF’s Love strand supported by Porsche, who are joining the LFF as new sponsors this year. 

An ode to the romantic reggae genre called ‘lovers rock’ and to the young people who found freedom and love in its sound, Lovers Rock tells a fictional story of young love and music at a house party in 1980. Amarah-Jae St Aubyn makes her screen debut opposite the BAFTAs 2020 Rising Star Award recipient Micheal Ward (Blue Story). Shaniqua Okwok (Boys), Kedar Williams-Stirling (Sex Education), Ellis George (Dr Who), Alexander James-Blake (Top Boy) and Kadeem Ramsay (Blue Story) also star, as well as Francis Lovehall and Daniel Francis-Swaby who make their screen debuts. Lovers Rock was co-written by Courttia Newland and Steve McQueen.

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The film, alongside Mangrove, is one of 5 films from Small Axe, a drama anthology which comprises original films created by Steve McQueen for BBC One. Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London’s West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will, despite rampant racism and discrimination. Mangrove will open the film festival on Wednesday 7 October and will play for free to audiences at BFI Southbank and in selected cinemas across the UK

“I’m so happy to be screening Lovers Rock at the London Film Festival,” says McQueen. “To show it here where it belongs is a privilege. I hope this film will bring back memories of parties past and look to the future of parties to come.”

“Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock as a late addition?” says Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival director. “Swoon… this is exactly what we all need on the last day of the BFI London Film Festival: pure cinematic and musical balm.”

The 64th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express is taking place from Wednesday 7 October to Sunday 18 October 2020. Over the 12 days the festival will be its most accessible ever, presenting over 50 virtual premieres and a selection of highly anticipated new feature film previews at BFI Southbank as well as in cinemas across the UK, offering audiences a unique chance to engage with the festival in different ways. 

The full programme is available online. All tickets are available to book now.

Small Axe has been executive produced by Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner for Turbine Studios and Steve McQueen for Lammas Park. Mike Elliot is producing for EMU Films with Turbine and Anita Overland. The executive producers for the BBC are Lucy Richer, Senior Commissioning Editor for Drama, and Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Film. Amazon Studios is co-producing within the US. BBC Studios are the international distributors and are handling global television sales.

Small Axe will premiere on BBC One and iPlayer this autumn and air on Amazon Prime Video in the US.

Originally published: 23 September 2020